Historically, the tight end position has not featured very many players who have helped sell NFL tickets, but in more recent years the position has evolved. There are now a number of tight ends who post impressive receiving numbers year in and year out. Here I rank the tight ends who I think will turn in the five best fantasy performances this season.
1. Antonio Gates, San Diego: This collegiate basketball player turned NFL star is hands down the best tight end in the league. His combination of speed, size, hands and the ability to use his body make him basically uncoverable. Gates is quarterback Philip Rivers’ favorite target and consistently puts up incredible numbers for a tight end. He’s one of the many players on the Chargers whose playmaking ability help sell NFL tickets in San Diego.
2. Jason Witten, Dallas: Witten is Tony Romo’s number two option behind Terrell Owens. Witten is big, strong and has great hands. In Dallas’ pass-happy offense, Witten gets plenty of balls thrown his way. He’ll consistently put up top-tier tight end numbers for years to come.
3. Dallas Clark, Indianapolis: Peyton Manning and the Colts love to run two-tight end sets and Clark is one of Manning’s favorite targets. If Marvin Harrison has trouble staying healthy again, the team is going to depend heavily on Clark. He had a breakout season in 2007 and should only improve in 2008.
4. Kellen Winslow, Cleveland: We all know he’s “a soldier,” but he’s also the son of one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the game, Kellen Winslow Sr. Winslow has the talent to be the best tight end in the league and has put together some really good seasons thus far. His athleticism and speed are off the charts for a player of his size and strength, making him a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses.
5. Tony Gonzalez, Kansas City: This receiving tight end trend is so new that there was a time in Gonzo’s career that he was pretty much the only consistent receiving threat in the NFL other than Shannon Sharpe. He’s not the first guy to do it, but he’s seemed to help usher in its acceptance more than any other player. Tony is not what he used to be, but he’s still a top five fantasy tight end. Quarterback Brodie Croyle should use him a lot.
Some up and coming tight ends I’d also keep an eye on are Vernon Davis and Heath Miller. Never has the NFL had so many tight ends so skilled in the passing game. These guys serve as an extra receiver and make the game more exciting, only increasing sales in NFL tickets.